The federal government is investing up to $500 million to bring high-speed, broadband Internet access to 300 rural and remote communities by 2021.

Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains says the "Connect to Innovate" program is the modern equivalent of building roads or railway spurs to remote locations, providing Internet access to schools, hospitals and First Nation band offices.

He says high-speed Internet access can unlock tremendous economic potential, leading to the creation of new jobs, products and businesses.

The deadline for applications for project funding is March 13 next year.

The money for the project was first announced in the spring budget.

Some of the cash will be used to provide basic "backbone networks" and a portion will go to upgrade existing networks to bring Internet access to households and businesses that do not have speeds of at least 5 megabits per second.

"Our government is committed to ensuring that all Canadians, businesses and institutions have access to the opportunities and tools they need to grow and succeed in Canada and abroad," Bains said in a statement.

"By increasing access to high-speed Internet, the Connect to Innovate program enhances our rural and remote communities' ability to innovate, participate in the digital economy and create jobs for middle-class families. This investment will improve the daily lives of Canadians."